Torah Portion: Behar (On the Mountain) Leviticus/Vayikra 25:1-26:2

Haftorah Reading Jeremiah 32:6-27

 Tonight, we read a Torah portion almost completely about the Sh’mitah, or 7th year and the Yovel, that occurred every 50 years, or after the 7th Sh’mitah celebration.  Before we go any further let’s look at this Torah portion in light of my question I sent you this week. What are the steps to be taken during the Sh’mitah year?

Sh’mitah year

1.    Land lies fallow

2.    No sowing of crops

3.    No reaping, pruning or harvesting

4.    The family, their servants and strangers could eat what grew of its own accord

5.    The livestock could also take from what grew on its own

The Yovel/Jubilee Year

1.    Again, no sowing

2.    No reaping, pruning or harvesting

3.    The land was returned to the original owners, except in walled cities

4.    Debts and contracts were released

5.    It was forbidden to take advantage of the poor

What are we to learn from these two events?

1.    Everything comes from G-d’s hand. We are to work and fulfill our roles as providers but ultimately it is G-d we depend on not our own strength.

2.    All people are treated fairly.

3.    Our goal is not how many material possessions we can accumulate in our life time but rather achieving what G-d put us on earth to accomplish.

4.    Our faith and trust is to be in the L-rd. We all, at one time, were sinners but we heard the ram’s horn and answered the L-rd’s call and now have been set free, not to do whatever we want but to do His will.

I want us to look at these two events and see how they might help us in our life. Let’s look at Leviticus/Vayikra 25:3-4. In verse 4 we read in English, “But in the seventh year shall be a shabbat rest to the land.” In Hebrew it reads differently. It reads, “But in the seventh year there shall be a Shabbat Shabbatone.” The two words, Shabbat Shabbatone means a solemn rest or a Sabbath of Sabbaths. When it is written this way in scripture the writer wants to emphasize the seriousness of a day or year. Shabbat Shabatone does not appear in the verses about the Jubilee or Yovel.

Beginning in Jeremiah 32:7 we read the story of Jeremiah redeeming the property that belonged to his uncle’s son. This is an example of how important it was for property to stay with the family. This was one of the purposes of the Yovel or Jubilee.

In Leviticus/Vayikra 25:10 we read, “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout all the land.” At what famous American monument can we find this verse written? It is written on the side of the Liberty Bell.  In Hebrew the word for liberty is Dror. This word speaks of free-flowing complete freedom.  What is interesting about this word is, we see it again in Isaiah 61:1-2. There it is speaking of the coming of the Messiah. In Luke 4:21 we read where Yeshua was speaking in the synagogue in Nazareth and quoted these verses of Isaiah saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” He identified Himself as the one anointed with the Spirit of G-d and proclaiming the year of the L-rd’s favor, proclaiming the free flowing dror of the Spirit of G-d in the dawning of the Messianic Era. He was saying, if a person repents and turns to the L-rd for the free-flowing forgiveness of his sins in the name of Yeshua, he can enter into the Spiritual Yovel. There will come a final redemption for all of Israel one day in G-d’s timing (Romans 11:26) and we will enter into the final Yovel celebration.

We as G-d’s people today are in the place of reflecting Him, doing His will. We are not to be tied to things, but  we are to be part of the body of the Messiah doing His will, where ever He sends us. Our salvation carries responsibilities to the world around us. We are to faithfully carry out His plan for our lives. That is how we acknowledge Him every day of the time He gives us in this life.